Science Symposium Speakers

 Science Symposium Speakers 

 Here is the line-up of speakers for the 2019 Wheaton College Science Symposium.



Dr. Roger Wiens


Dr. Roger Wiens (’82) works with the Space Remote Sensing Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of New Mexico. He started his scientific career by writing the first dissertation on the Mars atmosphere based on meteorite samples (PhD. U. MN, ’88). He has worked as a scientist at Caltech, the University of California, and Los Alamos National Laboratory, and has made research visits to organizations such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Since 2004 Dr. Wiens has been the leader of the ChemCam laser instrument on the Curiosity rover (; which landed in 2012. In 2014 NASA selected the SuperCam instrument being built for NASA’s next Mars rover, due to launch in 2020. He is now leading this instrument in development. Dr. Wiens has been recognized by NASA and Los Alamos National Laboratory for his contributions to science, and in 2016 he was knighted by the government of France. He has received other awards, including the naming of Asteroid 41795 WIENS.


Poelarends Dr. Arend J. Poelarends

Wheaton College

Dr. Arend Jan (AJ) Poelarends is associate professor of physics and astronomy at Wheaton College. He earned his M.Sc. in theoretical physics and astronomy from Utrecht University in the Netherlands (2003). His PhD in astrophysics (2007), focused on the evolution of the least massive stars able to produce supernovae (so-called electron capture supernovae), was also from Utrecht University, with part of his research conducted at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. He also earned an M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis (2011) with special attention to hermeneutics and the interface between science and faith. After joining the faculty at Wheaton College, he has continued his research in supernovae, studying with his students the possibility of electron-capture supernovae in binary systems. He also worked with several students utilizing the 24-inch Planewave telescope on top of the Meyer Science Center to detect and analyze variability in stars which could indicate a possible double star or an exoplanet around another star.



Dr. Denise Stephens

Bringham Young University

Denise Stephens is associate professor of physics and astronomy at Brigham Young University. Graduating  from Brigham Young University in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in physics, she then received a Master’s (1999) and PhD (2002) in astronomy from New Mexico State University, where her graduate research focused on the near-infrared colors of brown dwarfs.  Working  from 2002-2004 at the Space Telescope Science Institute,  her team  discovered several new binary transneptunian objects. She then moved to Johns Hopkins University as a Research Scientist for three years working on mid-infrared spectra of brown dwarfs before joining the faculty at Brigham Young University in January 2007.  Her current research interests include brown dwarf atmospheres and detecting binary brown dwarf systems, the discovery of transiting extrasolar planets, and developing the exoplanet science case for a new instrument called Scorpio that will be placed on the Gemini south telescope.  Stephens is also involved with NASA’s  Origins Space Telescope Science Working Group on Exoplanets.